Perhaps the quintessential example of niche marketing, TIP TOP DADDY collects 23 acoustic demos by Charlie Feathers, one of the great underappreciated geniuses of honky tonk and rockabilly. These recordings, many made on a primitive one-microphone home deck, will appeal primarily to those already intimately familiar with Feathers' commercially released body of work. That's a lot fewer folks than it ought to be: while worshipped by a small core of devotees, Feathers is almost completely unknown outside the tattoo and pompadour set.
Still, TIP TOP DADDY is a great and worthwhile album, and Norton should be commended for releasing something with such obviously limited commercial appeal. The disc reveals Feathers' deep roots in the mournful music of Hank Williams Sr., as the bare bones accompaniment causes even the flat-out rockabilly tunes here take on the lonely mien of honky tonk. Some of the scratchy, chopped-up tracks here will test listeners' patience, but the disc richly rewards persistence. Those willing to work their way through TIP TOP DADDY will find some of American music's best-hidden gems.